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September 8th, 2007

(no subject) @ 12:14 pm

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I predict that in twenty years, not dissimilarly to German in a sense, most Japanese nouns will be written in katakana. Why? Because they'll all be English loanwords. I was in the grocery store, looking for some matcha; I didn't want the loose-leaf stuff because it's a pain in the ass to futz around with it in the office. Finally found an (expensive) little jar of the stuff with all the right characters and whatnot - but then in the ingredient list it said (in katakana) "instant tea".

WTF?
 
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From:dolphin42
Date:September 8th, 2007 05:32 am (UTC)
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well, the japanese way is imitation and then improvement, so the japanese idea of instant tea is unsuprisingly more sophisticated... I guess... You are giving me the wanderlust, I want to travel more... Alas, I'm only part way through my katakana/hiragana workbook.
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From:amaninthemoon
Date:September 8th, 2007 11:47 am (UTC)
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Once I learned katakana, I found the abundant Engrish strange as well. Then, I realized that there's no real reason to consider it odd, or even to assume that the borrowed words are even English. "Tea" was originally a Chinese word, for instance. English itself is mostly loanwords, after all. I'll grant that "instant tea" (or インスターントチ・イー or whatever) is almost certainly from the English, but given how mangled the pronunciations become when you convert to the Japanese syllabary, you probably can't tell half of the time whether any given borrowed word is English or Spanish or French. Or Russian. Or Martian.

Reading katakana Engrish makes my brain hurt, by the way.
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From:moof
Date:September 8th, 2007 01:43 pm (UTC)
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Katakana engrish doesn't bother me nearly as much as katakana french - cafe au lait -> ko-hi- a re. (instant tea was "insutanto te[small i]-".)
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From:amaninthemoon
Date:September 8th, 2007 09:14 pm (UTC)
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That's funny. They use the engrish word for coffee and use french (flench?) for the rest. I guess there'd only be about one character's difference, once you convert them into katakana.

Good for them. It drives me nuts sometimes that we have five or ten different languages' worth of nouns for the same damned thing. Great for poetry, lousy for everything else, especially kids and ESL people.

By the way, a lingual shift towards english probably isn't any worse than what was happening before. When looking for textbooks, I found a lot of reviews for certain ones that said they were full of language that's no longer in use, and these were only 25-30 years old. I'm guessing this is because of the gradual standardization/reduction/redaction of kanji and the slow move towards phonetic spellings of many words. I'd think the fact that pretty much all kids' text is phonetic allows for shifts that the non-malleable kanji didn't, since we know from experience that kids and tweens set a lot of the new language in the west. And, just like generation after generation in the west gets lazier, so too will theirs, and they'll get to the point that they don't use certain kanji at all anymore, even as adults. Consider "u" and "ur"--there's a VP at my company who uses them because they're easier to type. Sad, but that's the future of english.

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